No. 11 Women's Tennis opens NCAA Championship with 4-0 win over Wichita State
May 11, 2012
AUSTIN, Texas -
Eleventh-seeded Texas (18-7) claimed the doubles point and added singles wins from Lina Padegimaite, Krista Damico and Cierra Gaytan-Leach, as the Horns registered a 4-0 win over Wichita State (21-6) Friday in the opening round of the NCAA Championship at UT's Penick-Allison Tennis Center.
Texas advances to the NCAA Championship's round of 32 and will meet Nebraska on Saturday. The Cornhuskers claimed a 4-0 win over North Texas in the day's first match on the UT campus. Texas and Nebraska will square off Saturday at 1 p.m. Central at Penick-Allison.
In its first home NCAA tournament matches since 2005, Texas jumped out to a fast start in the doubles session, where it won two matches to win the doubles point and assume a 1-0 lead. Damico and Gaytan-Leach held on for an 8-6 win over the Shockers' Carla Venticinque and Lutfiana Budiharto at second doubles. The Longhorns clinched the doubles point at third doubles, where Elizabeth Begley and Aeriel Ellis defeated WSU's Montse Blasco Fernandez and Veronika Blaskova by an 8-4 count. The remaining match at first doubles was suspended.
Padegimaite gave Texas a 2-0 lead with her 6-2, 6-1 win over Kovalova at third singles. The Lithuanian is unbeaten in her last 14 matches, a span in which she has won 28 of 30 sets. Behind a formidable serve, Damico cruised her way to a 6-1, 6-3 win over Damaschin at second singles to give the Longhorns a 3-0 lead.
At fifth singles, it was Gaytan-Leach who put the cap on another Texas victory just two weeks after clinching UT's win over Texas A&M in the finals of the Big 12 Championship. Gaytan-Leach took the first set off of Wichita State's Satjaporn Mahajaroenkul, 6-1. Gaytan-Leach was broken at 5-all in the second set before breaking back to push the set to a tiebreaker. Gaytan-Leach powered her way to a 7- 1 tiebreak victory to win her match and give Texas the match-clinching point.
2012 NCAA Championship
Singles | Order of Finish: 3, 2, 5
Texas head coach Patty Fendick-McCain
On going into singles play with positive momentum from the doubles matches: I think there is a momentum issue there and confidence-wise, you're building confidence. I think the reality of the situation is that it's only one point. You're playing for six points at singles, and we're strong at all six spots in singles. So it's just more of a morale booster. And for us, we have very good doubles players on our team. All six of the girls that are out there, and a couple that aren't even in the lineup at the moment, are all very good doubles players. We haven't played our best in doubles [this season], and we've really tried to focus ourselves at this point in the season to really start playing our best tennis. This is where it all counts. It's nice to see it all coming to fruition.
On the performances from Krista Damico and Lina Padegimaite: Those two players in particular - Krista our senior captain, leading the team to the Big 12 title at the tournament. She's just great. She's playing super tennis and is right where she wants to be in her career right now. And Lina - Freshman of the Year in the Big 12 - you couldn't say more about her. She battled with injuries in the fall and wasn't able to play and managed to get healthy for the spring. Obviously, her performance out here shows what she's capable of. She's a fantastic player. We've kind of had her sleeping a little bit lower in the lineup, getting her form back and her physical state back. But now it's all coming together for her. It's great to see.
On her decision to move Padegimaite up to the No. 3 singles spot: I think it speaks for itself. She just destroyed the girl. She's obviously one of the best players on our team. Her win-loss record is impeccable. There's no question she's earned the right to go up and play at that position. She is more than holding her own.
On the team's momentum since winning the Big 12 Tournament: I think at this point in the season you're trying to peak right at the right time. For us, it's more of a confidence issue. Especially in women's tennis, it's such a mental sport. Having that win at the Big 12s really gave us more confidence. They've worked on the things they've needed to work on the past few weeks. This is where we want to be. For us, we really don't look ahead or look behind. We're staying in the moment.
On what the team needs to do to advance to the NCAA Round of 16: We've got to play good tennis. We're fighters. We've got a lot of depth on our team. They fight well, and they've got great skills. Now it's about performing at their best and being mentally ready to perform at their best.
On facing Nebraska in the second-round match on Saturday: They were in our conference last year and we had to play them at Nebraska last year. They're very difficult to play at home. We had to play them indoors. They essentially have the same lineup as they did last year. So we're familiar with their players. We're familiar with their team. They are a very good team. They have a lot of depth as well. They're all great kids and great competitors.
On her message to the team after today's victory: Just great. That's what you want to see. After being involved in winning a number of championships myself, it's all about taking care of business and getting it in the can pretty quickly so that you're fresh for the next day. That's exactly what we wanted to do. That's what we did. We've got a lot of juice left for tomorrow.